The Best Shoes For Horseback Riding Revealed!

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Last Updated on February 3, 2023

Choosing the best shoes for horseback riding can make all the difference to your horse riding experience. But do you need special shoes for riding horses? Or can you pull on a pair of shoes from your closet? Let’s find out!

How to Choose The Best Shoes for Horseback Riding

Riding a horse is one of the most exhilarating feelings you will ever experience – it is a thrill like nothing else in the world! However, before you get on a horse you need to ensure you are wearing the right gear, and that includes the best shoes for horseback riding.

Just like any type of sport, it is vital to ensure that you have the right equipment before you start. Having the right pair of shoes for horseback riding will not only provide comfort and performance, but they will also provide safety for your feet. Since a horse stepping on your foot could cause serious injuries, it is important to have the proper footwear while riding.

Whether you are wanting to go trail riding as a new activity or are just starting up horseback riding lessons, you need to make sure you have appropriate shoes. The shoes you wear must be functional, comfortable, and safe. An inappropriate pair of shoes may not only be uncomfortable but may also hinder your riding ability and could potentially even be dangerous.

Key features of the best shoes for horseback riding

If horse riding is a new hobby, you won’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on a new kit straight away. Luckily, most beginner riders manage fine with a pair of everyday shoes, as long as they include some key features to ensure they are suitable.

Ultimately, the best shoes for horseback riding are English or Western riding boots. A purpose-made pair of riding boots will give you the most functionality, comfort, and protection.

However, if you are not planning on doing lots of riding or are unsure you are going to stick with it, there are other types of shoes you can wear. Since riding boots can be expensive, you can wear other shoes before deciding to invest in buying them.

When deciding what shoes to wear for horseback riding, the first thing to bear in mind is that you should always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. It is too easy for a horse to accidentally step on your feet, and open-toed shoes may result in a bruised foot or broken toe. The upper surface of the shoe should be made of a durable material that is thick and robust enough to protect your foot from damage.

The other key component of a good pair of shoes for horseback riding is a small heel. This will help prevent the foot from sliding right through the stirrup. The sole of the shoe should be sturdy but not so thick and wide that it could become wedged in the stirrup.

And finally, take care with laces and zips on boots and shoes for horseback riding. Avoid anything which may get caught up on the stirrups or flap against the horse. If lace-up shoes are your only option, tuck the ends of the laces inside the shoes once they are fastened securely.

best horse riding boots for women

Why Do Horseback Riders Wear Boots?

Just like cleats are an essential part of a soccer or football player’s uniform, the same goes for riding boots and horseback riders. Riders wear boots that are made of a variety of different materials, and styles, and are sold at various price points. But a good pair of riding boots don’t just look good – they also play a vital role in the comfort, ability, and safety of the rider.

The best shoes for horseback riding will help keep your foot balanced in the stirrup, without the risk of it becoming wedged or sliding right through the stirrup. Most riders opt for ankle or long boots, as these provide support to the ankle and lower leg. There should be enough flexibility for the rider to move easily.

If you’re planning on spending many hours in the saddle, then comfort is of vital importance. The best shoes for horseback riding will be well padded and comfortable, keeping the foot warm in cooler weather and allowing it to breathe during hot weather.

When choosing the best shoes for horseback riding, here are some of the factors to take into consideration:

Boot Material

Boots are made in a variety of different materials so you will have a lot of options to choose from. Leather, synthetic, rubber, and fabric are some of the most common materials used. Many boots are also waterproof, water-resistant, insulated, or have a breathable material, so choose what will be the best for you and the climate where you will be riding the most. 

  • Leather

When you think of horse riding boots, leather is what comes to mind first. Leather is strong and holds up the best when it is used for riding every day and is more resistant to abrasions, rips, and tears than other materials. This material is breathable, but will still keep your feet warm during winter riding.

Leather also offers more comfort to the rider than other materials, as over time the leather will mold to the shape of your foot giving you the best fit with amazing comfort. Leather boots are water-resistant but prolonged exposure to water will cause your feet to become wet. 

  • Synthetic

Boots made of synthetic material can look almost the same as leather boots. Synthetic boots are a great option if you are not going to be riding every day, they are durable but won’t hold up to daily riding like leather boots.

Synthetic boots will also be more comfortable in a short period, which is ideal for the occasional rider. These boots are also more water-resistant and or waterproof, making them good all-weather boots. Many synthetic boots are also breathable.

  • Rubber

Choosing to purchase boots made of rubber is a great option if you have a child who is just starting or if you live in a wet climate and only have one pair of boots. These boots are very easy to clean and hold up moderately well when used regularly. However, rubber boots are not breathable and have poor insulating properties.

Style Of Riding Boot

Riding boots come in a variety of styles. There are boots made specifically for English and Western, and you will find short ankle boots and long boots. The style you choose will depend very much on the type of riding activities you intend on participating in.

For example, if you dream of long trail rides, then a pair of Western boots may be the best option for you. A casual rider may be perfectly comfortable in a pair of English paddock boots, but for intensive schooling, dressage, or jumping, long boots may be preferable.

Price Range

Riding boots vary in price with leather being the most expensive, followed by synthetic, and lastly rubber. If you ride daily or ride multiple horses a day purchasing a good quality pair of leather boots is a great investment.

Leather boots will last a long time and when they start to wear out, they can be repaired instead of purchasing a new pair of boots. Synthetic boots need to be replaced more often so if you ride a lot you will end up spending quite a bit because you will be replacing the boots every few months. Low-budget rubber boots will be the best choice for children with fast-growing feet, as they may only be worn for a few months before the child grows out of them.

Best Shoes For Horseback Riding: English Riding Boots

Before we move on shoes that you can pull out of your closet for horseback riding, we’re going to take a look at the different options of purpose-made boots for riding you can choose from.

Paddock Boots

  • Paddock Boots are the most popular type of English riding boots. They are short boots that go up a few inches past your ankle. They are a great option for the first pair of riding boots. Paddock boots generally have zippers or laces, making them easy to get on.
ARIAT Women's Scout Zip Paddock Paddock Boot
ARIAT Women’s Scout Zip Paddock Paddock Boot
  • Some paddock boots slip on and are referred to as Jodhpur boots. Jodhpur boots are used as show boots in saddle seat classes.
Horze Signature Jodhpur Boots
Horze Signature Jodhpur Boots

Paddock boots make great everyday riding boots. They may easily be worn with half chaps if desired. Paddock boots are durable and comfortable, making them great riding boots.

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Horseback Riding Tall Boots

Tall boots are worn by hunters, jumpers, and dressage riders. There are three different tall boots: field, dress, and dressage.

  • Field boots have laces in the front and are traditionally worn in hunter, jumper, and flat classes.
TuffRider Ladies Belmont Field Boot
  • Dress boots are made with soft, supple leather and do not have laces, they are commonly used by jumpers and dressage riders. Dressage boots are made with stiff leather and are used in all levels of dressage.
TuffRider Ladies Belmont Dress Boots are one of the best horse riding boots for women.

Most people don’t wear tall boots daily. Tall boots can be hard to get on, so many people opt to wear paddock boots with half chaps. However, some people do prefer the performance of tall boots better, so they wear them regularly.

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Best Shoes For Horseback Riding: Western Riding Boots

Western riding boots come in various styles and are often known for their flashy designs. They provide comfort, protection, functionality, and durability. Many people love cowboy boots because of their versatility and fashionable style.

Cowboy Boots

  • Cowboy boots are a popular choice of riding boots for those who ride western or love the classic look of cowboy boots. Cowboy boots are designed to be easy to put on and keep you comfortable on your feet all day long.
Ariat Women’s Fatbaby Western Boot

Terrain and Hiking Boots

If you are looking for a versatile boot that can be used for more than just horseback riding, terrain, and hiking boots are great options. Many brands of equestrian boots make terrain boots that double as riding boots. Not only do they work great as riding boots, but they can also be used for chores and outdoor activities. Some terrain boots are designed specifically for endurance riding.

Most terrain and hiking boots are made from durable materials, are designed to be functional and comfortable, have a heel, go above your ankle, and have laces or zippers.

Hiking and terrain boots are designed to be worn for hours, so they are guaranteed to be comfy. They make great riding boots because they often come with a heel. They are also designed to hold up in tough conditions and have good traction.

Ariat Women’s Terrain H2O Hiking Boot

Best Shoe For Horseback Riding: Non-Equestrian Boots

If you want to give horse riding a try before buying all the gear, you’ll need to find some suitable footwear from your shoe closet. Luckily, most people should be able to find something that can be worn by a novice or occasional rider. Let’s take a look at some options:

Can you wear Wellies for horse riding?

Muck boots, rain boots, and wellies can double as riding boots if you don’t have other options available. Muck boots tend to be sturdier than rain boots, so they are the better option of the two. Both types of boots provide a heel and come in short and tall lengths.

Though some muck boots are designed to double as riding boots, some are too chunky to fit comfortably in a stirrup. If you decide to ride in muck boots or rain boots, you want to ride in boots that have a heel.

Muck Boots Chore Rubber Women’s Work Boot

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Can you wear tennis shoes and horseback riding?

Though not ideal, tennis shoes can be used for horseback riding. However, if you have a boot you can wear instead, go with that. If you do wear tennis shoe for horseback riding, make sure that it has a good traction and if possible, a small heel.

Salomon Men's Pathfinder Hiking Shoe
Salomon Men’s Pathfinder Hiking Shoe

Some places may not allow you to wear tennis shoes for riding, so make sure you check before you go. Tennis shoes will not provide good protection if you get stepped on by a horse.

Can you wear Doc Martens for horse riding?

Many people have a pair of Doc Martens stashed in their shoe closet, but would they be a good choice for horse riding? Doc Martens tick many of the boxes when it comes to choosing the best shoes for horseback riding – they are sturdy, have a neat heel, and provide ankle support. However, the wide sole of Doc Marten boots can be a problem, as it may cause the foot to become wedged in the stirrup.


Summary – The Best Shoes For Horseback Riding

Whether you are going on your first trail ride or are an avid rider, you want to ensure that you have proper footwear for horseback riding. The best option for everyday riding boots is paddock boots, cowboy boots, or terrain boots. However, any boot with a heel, traction and hard toe will work for horseback riding.

If you do not have any of those available, a muck-style boot or tennis shoe can be used, though tennis shoes are not an ideal choice. It is important to make sure the shoe you are riding in has a heel, provides traction, is functional, and provides protection.  

Please comment if you have any questions about this article or have any remarks regarding this post!


What are the most comfortable horse riding boots?

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to horse boots - the right boot will depend on the type of riding activity you are participating in. The right boot for a person's height and weight can make all the difference in comfort.
One of the most popular choices of horse riding boots are Ovation Flex Sport boots. They are famous for offering outstanding comfort. This boot is designed with a flexible sole, which allows the foot to move naturally. It also has an in-molded EVA midsole that provides superior cushioning and shock absorption. The outsole of the Ovation Flex Sport boot features a combination of a non-marking rubber compound for excellent traction and durability.

Can you wear cowboy boots Horseback riding?

Yes! Cowboy boots are designed to be worn on horseback and protect the wearer's feet, ankles, and legs from injury. They are typically made from durable leather and have a protected toe as well as a generous heel height.
If you are going to be horseback riding on the open range, you will need a sturdy yet comfortable pair of boots. A good pair of cowboy boots should be comfortable, waterproof, warm, and have a reinforced toe for safety. Cowboy boots are available in a variety of styles and sizes but the most important is to choose a pair that fits you properly.

What shoes do you wear horseback riding in the summer?

If you are going to be out on the trail all day, you will want something that is both comfortable and provides good protection for your feet, ankles and legs. When it comes to selecting a pair of riding shoes for the warmer weather months, there are many things to consider. Your primary concerns are comfort and safety.
It is also important that the shoe you select be breathable so you will stay cool and dry. Ankle boots such as paddock boots are probably the best choice when horseback riding in the summertime. They are comfortable and will protect your feet but will be less hot than knee-high riding boots.

Can you wear Dr Martens for horse riding?

Dr. Martens is an English company that has been producing sturdy work boots for over 50 years. Their boots are favored by tradespeople and construction workers all over the world. However, they are not recommended for horseback riding even though some people do wear them.
Because these boots are wide in front and have a ridged sole, they present a great risk of getting caught in the stirrups. This could result in a serious injury in case you fall off the horse and get dragged around because your shoes are stuck in the stirrups.

Are Ropers good for riding?

Ropers were designed to be worn on horseback and are ideal for all types of western riding. They provide support for the rider's legs and feet so that they are more comfortable and offer more control. In fact, ropers are often called "cowboy boots". This is because many of them have the same design as cowboy boots, with a toe box that covers the toe and a soft leather lining that will keep your foot warm when riding.

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